New York prosecutors have charged 96 MS-13 members and associates in what law enforcement is calling the largest takedown of the notorious street gang in state history.
What are the details?
The nearly two-year investigation, which involved both local and federal law enforcement, netted nine area leaders and thwarted seven murder plots, officials announced during a news conference Friday afternoon, provided below by ABC News.
"The goal of this investigation was to deliver a major blow to the gang's leadership, operations and recruitment in our region ... we did exactly that," Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini told reporters.
Sini added that the operation helped "end" MS-13's program in Suffolk County, which had become a hotbed for the gang on the East Coast.
According to Fox News, the arrests made were for a range of crimes including conspiracy to commit murder, drug trafficking, and weapons sales, and the ages of those arrested range from 16 to 59 and include both U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants.
Sini also noted that 10 kilograms of cocaine, press pills of fentanyl, drug ledgers, handguns, numerous machetes and "well over $200,000 in cash were recovered" during the arrests.
What's the background?
MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, is a street gang that started in Los Angeles in the 1970s. The gang recruits young members from Central American countries, mainly El Salvador, though many of its members are Salvadoran-American U.S. citizens. Today, the gang is active in several locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America.
MS-13 is especially known for its extreme cruelty and brutality, and officials believe the gang is responsible for at least two dozen killings on Long Island alone since 2016, including the killing of a 15- and 16-year-old. The crimes summoned President Trump to visit Suffolk County in 2017 and 2018 where he called out MS-13.
In a memo titled, "What You Need To Know About The Violent Animals Of MS-13," the White House slammed the gang for "heinous, violent attacks in communities across America."
Officials hope this major takedown will go a long way in stamping out the gang's activity and recruitment in New York.